Since the late 1950s, Falcon Hildred’s mission has been to make a visual record of the buildings of a disappearing industrial culture. In many areas, old industries were collapsing, long-established communities were being replaced by mass housing schemes and ambitious urban redevelopment was taking hold. Falcon could do little to halt this, but as a skilled designer and illustrator he could at least ensure that monuments to the past did not disappear without some record being made.
Born in 1935 in Grimsby, Falcon Hildred attended art colleges in Coventry and Birmingham, then the Royal College of Art in London. Since 1969, he has lived in Blaenau Ffestiniog. During the past half century he has documented a wealth of buildings and landscapes through detailed but evocative drawings. He has been motivated by a sense that buildings hold up a mirror to the lives of the people who built, used and inhabited them. He has said:
The thing about buildings is that they’re about people. [...] Everything we do in life is either in or around buildings. We celebrate, we teach, we live, we work, we heal, we compete, we store –everything is done in and around buildings, and they therefore embody all our needs, all our hopes, our beliefs, our fears […]. They are the symbols of what we want and what we believe. So the risk is that when you destroy a building you risk destroying something of ourselves
The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales, working in partnership with the Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust and with support from the Heritage Lottery Fund, has acquired a unique collection of over 600 original drawings of industrial buildings and landscapes by Falcon Hildred. Falcon Hildred has dedicated his working life to recording the buildings and landscapes of 19th- and 20th-century industry, producing works of high aesthetic, historical and social value.
The Falcon Hildred Access and Learning Project preserves this valuable resource for the enjoyment of future generations, and opens access to the collection through a co-ordinated programme of digitisation, publication, exhibition and education across England and Wales.
To find out more, visit the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales website or see the accompanying book, Worktown: the Drawings of Falcon Hildred.